Are You Making This Common Mistake With Data?

Pilots in World War Two had a life expectancy of 4 weeks

World War 2 was a tragedy for pilots

The vast majority didn't make it home.

So flight engineers were always trying to find ways to make the planes they flew stronger so that pilots had the best chance possible of returning from missions.

The data on the picture shows holes where bullets had penetrated the plane.

The engineers would go about reinforcing the areas the bullets hit.

Until one engineer realised that the planes returning had not been hit in the critical areas.

That was why they were returning.

The data they had was called a false positive.

The plane returning from the battlefield did not return because of where it was hit.

It returned because of where it wasn't hit.

They had an absence of data that showed the real reason the plane came home.

So what does this quite sad little story about WW2 have to do with you as an aspiring data analyst?


Think about an online store.

Most people don't buy.

The only data you have is that they arrived to your product page but didn't go through your shopping cart process.

You, just like the engineer need to think about why that happens more than you think about the purchasers (the ones that got home).

What hindered the people that started but didn't finish?

What can you test that might improve the amount of people that get to the end of the process?

Similarly with lead generation websites.

What stops your prospect signing up to your newsletter or filling in your contact form.

With publishers, what stops people reading or engaging?

Once you figure out what the lack of data means you're on your way to figuring out what actions to take.

The flight engineers reinforced the engines and other critical parts of the planes.

You might need to reinforce your sales copy, use better images, or make the process to purchase shorter.

Thankfully your data doesn't mean life or death if you get it wrong.

You can simply do a new test and move on.

Not so much for the pilots in WW2.

Lest we forget.

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